Unless, of course, you're a fan of submarines.
It also didn't help that at the same time the 3DS launched, Pokemon Black and White was released for the DS, which despite being backwards compatible, didn't help convince anyone to upgrade to the new system, when their older handheld systems were capable of playing the newest game(s) of one of the most popular and world-renowned gaming franchises of all time. I would bet it all that if Nintendo could do it again, they would make Pokemon Black and White 3DS games and use them as the maybe the biggest, most popular launch titles ever. But, hindsight is 20/20, as they say.
Anyway, because of the weak launch line-up of games, the 3DS sold poorly out of the gate, and was actually being considered a failure early on, as the units just weren't moving off of store shelves. To keep rabid fans and critics at bay, they dug deep in their bag of goodies and pulled out the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D remake, seemingly out of nowhere, which kept early adopters of the system content if anything, just because they finally had a good Nintendo-published game to play. Unfortunately, the re-release of that game, despite how good it was and how great it looked on the 3D screen, didn't move the sales needle, as the system was still having a hard time selling.
So Nintendo did what it had to do. Maybe it was the plan all along, but either way, the timing was crucial for the all-out assault it was about to unleash in an effort to push systems out the door and in the hands of eager Nintendo fans. Not only did they plan a price cut of the slightly over-priced system, but they also dipped in to two of their go-to franchises, Mario Kart and Super Mario. Super Mario 3D Land led the battle charge, with Kart following less than a month later, and immediately, gamers were finally given reason to own the 3DS system for themselves.
Super Mario 3D Land took a bunch of concepts from past Mario games and mashed them together, all in hopes of showing off the new features that the 3DS had to offer to gaming. It played like the typical 2D side-scrolling Mario platformer, all the levels weren't just flat landscapes to run across, as 3D exploration of the world was essential. It wasn't quite a 2.5D type of game, but it wasn't a full 3D style of game like Galaxy or Mario 64. It was the perfect style of game for a handheld system that still beautifully showed off the benefits of the 3D effect, that critics were already calling a "gimmick." In fact, this was the very first 3DS game that I played entirely with the 3D slider bar pushed all the way up.
Another fan-favorite move in their bag of tricks was the return of the Super Leaf power-up, giving Mario the ability to throw on the Tanooki suit and use that glorious Raccoon tail to his advantage. The Tanooki suit hadn't been seen or heard from since Super Mario Bros. 3, and before it was officially announced, it was merely a simple raccoon tail added to the logo first shown. Of course, Mario fans everywhere rejoiced, as the Super Leaf was always regarded highly by fans. Over the years, they gave Mario lots of other power-ups that allowed him to fly, float and attack enemies from close range, but never did they revisit the Super Leaf - until this game. And I tell you what, it was a pleasure to have it back.
The game itself feels short at first, but after "beating" it, you realize just how much of the game there is to play, which was a nice swerve by the developers. I remember when I first played it, I say there thinking, "After all of this, that's it?", and then was pleasantly surprised by what transpired after that.
It also showed off the 3DS system in all it's glory, which is what finally helped sell the system itself, utilizing the 3D effects beautifully, while also using the gyroscope efficiently, and taking advantage of the StreetPass function in a fun way that only a Mario game could get away with.
Overall, this game was exactly what the 3DS needed when it was released, and has since go on to be the best selling game on the system. Currently, the 3DS is selling gangbusters and has proven to be the epitome of a success story for a gaming console, especially considering it's rough start. It was the perfect mash-up of Mario styles, and would eventually pave the way for a brand new type of Mario game to become a staple of the franchise. But before Nintendo would revisit the 2D/3D style that helped save the 3DS, they would finally do something many fans had been wondering forever, but never got any answers to. They would finally let Mario strive for something more than just rescuing the princess and defeating Bowser.